Bottom 10: Tour’s worst statistical performers

Brad Faxon and Mike Weir

Brad Faxon and Mike Weir

The longest season in American major professional sports has ended for 2010. The PGA Tour is on vacation.

The best players have their awards. The top 125 have their exemptions for 2011. And the worst players? Well, they have a flurry of slap-you-in-the-face statistics that might provide motivation for a bounceback.

Welcome to the Bottom 10 for 2010. Helpful hint: You don’t want to be here.

The Bottom 10 identifies the poorest performers in some of the PGA Tour’s most important statistical categories. The Bottom 10 reflects official numbers from the PGA Tour and may exclude some players without the required number of rounds.

The purpose of this analysis is not to embarrass anyone, but rather to point to the enormous skill necessary to play the world’s most competitive golf tour. For example, a scoring average of 72.00 would not have cracked the top 175 in 2010, while a stroke average of 71.00 would not have made the top 100.

BOTTOM 10 SCORING AVERAGE (worst listed first): Brad Faxon 73.12, Greg Kraft 73.07, Kevin Johnson 72.88, Justin Bolli 72.88, Chris Wilson 72.68, Jerod Turner 72.60, Jeff Gove 72.40, Vance Veazey 72.32, Craig Bowden 72.23, Andrew McLardy 72.22, Mark Calcavecchia 72.22.

The injury-plagued Faxon clearly is ready for the broadcasting booth, and Calcavecchia probably should concentrate on the Champions Tour.

Several of these statistical categories are related. Why is Gove, a very solid ballstriker, in the Bottom 10 in scoring average? Because he is arguably the world’s worst putter.

BOTTOM 10 PUTTS PER ROUND: Jeff Gove 31.00, Roger Tambellini 30.71, Kris Blanks, 30.60, Billy Mayfair 30.50, Cameron Tringale, 30.45, Troy Matteson 30.44, Mathew Goggin 30.33, Charles Warren 30.28, Rocco Mediate 30.28, Davis Love III 30.24.

At 46, Love remains a potent ballstriker but continues to falter on the greens.

For amateurs, counting putts is the simplest of the stat categories. Use the PGA Tour formula: If a ball lies anywhere on the fringe, no matter how close to the hole, the resulting stroke is not a putt, even if a putter is used.

Consequently, for those who keep complete stats, any shot from the fringe is eligible for an up-and-down.

BOTTOM 10 UP-AND-DOWN FROM LESS THAN 30 FEET: Brad Faxon 65.52, Jerod Turner 69.23, Nicholas Thompson 73.27, Steve Lowery 74.60, Vaughn Taylor 75.56, Chris Couch 76.25, Mark Calcavecchia 76.27, Chris Tidland 76.67, Cameron Tringale 77.14, Craig Bowden 77.42.

The best player in this category was Brett Quigley, at 97.33 percent. Quigley had 75 of these shots during the year and got up-and-down 73 times.

Phil Mickelson may be known as a short-game machine, but he, too, had 75 shots of less than 30 feet and got up-and-down just 62 times (for a percentage of 82.67 and a rank of 143rd).

BOTTOM 10 DRIVING DISTANCE: Brian Gay 266.4, Craig Bowden 270.0, Brad Faxon 271.4, Omar Uresti 272.0, Tim Clark 272.2, Greg Kraft 273.2, Jeff Quinney 273.3, Paul Goydos 273.6, Mike Weir 273.9, Ben Curtis 275.5, Greg Chalmers 275.5.

You gotta love Corey Pavin. He played in just eight PGA Tour events, yet still finished 116th on the money list. He didn’t have enough drives to be included in the driving distance category. That’s probably a good thing, because he would have been last by a mile. Pavin averaged 256.7 yards off the tee, almost 60 yards behind leader Robert Garrigus (315.5) and about 10 yards shorter than Gay, who is listed in last place.

For Pavin and Gay, of course, there is a noteworthy compensation in driving accuracy. Pavin hit 76.14 percent of the fairways, which would have been first. Gay finished at 74.00 percent, third in the official stats.

Garrigus, by the way, finished 175th in driving accuracy (55.73 percent, more than 20 percentage points behind Pavin).

BOTTOM 10 DRIVING ACCURACY: Martin Flores 50.15, Daniel Chopra 51.27, Jimmy Walker 51.29, John Daly 52.21, Phil Mickelson 52.66, Rich Barcelo 52.80, Tim Herron 53.49, Mike Weir 53.83, George McNeill 54.34, J.B. Holmes, 54.45.

Daly and Mickelson are notoriously wild off the tee, but the name that stands out on this list is Weir. The former Masters champion was the only player on Tour to finish among the Bottom 10 in both driving distance and driving accuracy.

What’s up with Weir? He was battling a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, and he played when he probably should have been resting. Weir, who finished 151st on the money list, will start the 2011 season with a major medical extension.

BOTTOM 10 GREENS IN REGULATION: Mike Weir 57.89, Jerod Turner 58.94, Brad Faxon 59.05, Matt Bettencourt 60.17, Greg Kraft 60.63, Daniel Chopra 61.64, Rich Barcelo 61.72, Stuart Appleby 61.84, Padraig Harrington 61.90, Derek Lamely 61.93.

Appleby? Harrington? Yes, they have some serious work to do. Another marquee player who barely missed the Bottom 10 in GIR was Ian Poulter, who finished 181st in this category.

BOTTOM 10 SCRAMBLING: Brad Faxon, 47.49, Nicholas Thompson 49.38, Henrik Bjornstad 49.59, Jeff Gove 50.36, Steve Lowery 50.38, Vance Veazey 50.72, Jerod Turner 50.88, Mark Calcavecchia 50.96, Kevin Johnson 51.32, Steve Wheatcroft 51.84.

Scrambling percentage measures how often a player makes par or better after missing a green in regulation.

Perhaps the most mystifying stat of all is proximity to the hole, which measures the average distance a player’s ball comes to rest after an approach shot (not including shots from around the green). Jay Williamson finished second in proximity to the hole (30 feet, 9 inches), but was 167th on the money list. Joe Durant, third in proximity to the hole, finished 124th on the money list.

BOTTOM 10 PROXIMITY TO THE HOLE: Martin Flores 38-3, Jerod Turner 38-2, Daniel Chopra 38-2, Ted Purdy 38-1, J.B. Holmes, 38-1, Derek Lamely 38-0, James Driscoll 38-0, Angel Cabrera 37-10, Aaron Baddeley 37-9, Scott McCarron 37-8.

Bottom 10. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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